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Apple tech lets fans collect digital autographs on ebooks, movies and music albums

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
A peculiar Apple invention landed on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's desk on Thursday, describing a method in which an author or artist can digitally autograph a fan's ebook or other digital media using a special app.

Autograph
Source: USPTO


With the iBookstore, an iOS device user can essentially carry thousands of books in their pocket, each stored on board or in the cloud for immediate access. However, while extremely convenient and highly portable, ebooks simply can't replicate certain traits retained by bound books, like the feel of turning a page, quickly flipping through chapters and, as Apple points out in its patent filing, collecting an autograph.

Aside from asking an author to sign an iPad or iPhone, users are left with little recourse beyond purchasing a physical copy of a book, should they want an autograph from their favorite writer. The same goes for other digital media like movies and music.

Apple addresses the issue in a patent application for "Embedding an autograph in an electronic book." As noted in the document, electronic media has numerous advantages over their paper and ink counterparts, such as interactivity, additional content like video or audio and the ability to easily share snippets with friends, among others.

However, some still prefer physical copies, one of the reasons being that paper media can be personalized with autographs, for example. Autographed copies of books or album covers can hold special meaning to the reader and Apple wants to reproduce at least some of that significance by embedding personalized digital signatures in a digital medium.

While the patent application focuses primarily on ebooks, it is clearly noted that the technology can extend to the aforementioned digital formats, as well as any other media stored on an electronic device.

Autograph
Example of autograph transfer in a group setting.


In practice, the method of embedding an autograph starts with the user's device. Apple's provided example describes an ebook download that comes with an authorized autograph page included by the publisher.

Some embodiments restrict the autograph to a specific page or "hotspot" where the author can sign, while other methods allow the user to choose the insertion point. Alternatively, if there is no autograph page or hotspot, the author or content creator with appropriate permissions can generate the field via a specialized app such as iBooks Author.

To issue an autograph, an author's device must have the appropriate credentials and, in most cases, be in close proximity to the device receiving the signature. Transfer takes place over Bluetooth or other wireless protocol to a single device, or multiple devices depending on the situation.

Autograph
Illustration showing devices inside and outside of autograph transfer range.


Important to any autograph is authenticity, both for a user and the person giving away their signature. In some embodiments, a certificate is sent along with the autograph that verifies the content as legitimate. This digital marker can be stored on the recipient's device or remotely on a server like iCloud. When a user synchronizes their ebook library, the digital token is passed along, thereby securing the authenticity and uniqueness of the autograph.

Building on cloud support, autographs can first be sent to the cloud for authentication and encryption, then sent to the recipient devices. The appropriate credentials and safeguards would also be passed along in the transfer.

Autograph


Finally, the patent describes virtual signings that may take place over the Internet. In this case, identification keys and encrypted signature are transferred to a specific device, the identifier of which is recorded and attached to the accompanying certificate.

Interestingly, the filing notes that an "autograph" can take the form of any other digital media fit for storage and display on a user's device. For example, a photo with the author or a recorded soundbite can be clipped to the autograph page.

It is unclear what Apple plans to do with the digital autograph system, but the technology is in place to roll out such a feature if the company so chooses.

Apple's autograph embedding patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Casey Maureen Dougherty and Melissa Breglio Hajj as its inventors.
post #2 of 26
Very, Very cool.

Another nice patent under Apple's belt.
Edited by AppleSauce007 - 9/26/13 at 3:12am
post #3 of 26
I agree @AppleSauce007. This is pretty amazing. The fact that Apple thought of this is really cool.

Now, what Apple needs to next work on is getting that smell of a new book for a digital book!!
post #4 of 26
well, Apple did a great cover-up here. I believe this technology is just another step in Apple strategy towards enabling digital payments via iDevices.

The "fan-signature" story is very nice :-D
post #5 of 26

Can't imagine this ever getting implemented.  Too weird an edge case.

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post #6 of 26
Very cool!
post #7 of 26

I was wondering when this would be created. Great news for authors.

post #8 of 26
I've met the authors of about 10 books I own in ebook format. An application like this would have been appreciated. But, it's going to take some time for this functionality to be available. It seems the kind of patent that should be available for all ereaders and books in any format.
post #9 of 26
Great patent. This is definitely something I can see Amazon wishing they had thought of.

hmm, Apple should do something to extend iBeacon to prove a device was present somewhere. Think scavenger hunt where you have to visit certain locations. You find the location and the token providing device and then you get a token proving you were at that location transferred to your device. You could use at trade shows, outdoor events, or something similar. You read it hear first folks.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by kozchris View Post

Apple should do something to extend iBeacon to prove a device was present somewhere. Think scavenger hunt where you have to visit certain locations. You find the location and the token providing device and then you get a token proving you were at that location transferred to your device. You could use at trade shows, outdoor events, or something similar. You read it hear first folks.

Even tho Apple has been relatively quiet about it so far I think iBeacon already has the capability of doing that. There's two-way communication between your iOS7 bluetooth device and the receiving beacon. Your iPhone will broadcast a unique UUID that's logged by strategically placed iBeacon receivers. It doesn't take very many to cover a large area. Combined with store credit/reward cards or vendor apps a retailer or company can then personally identify each user, where they move in the building, and how long they linger in any particular area (watch those long bathroom visits 1wink.gif ) to help ID products you appeared to be interested in and then tailor notifications/ads/offers that probably interest you as an individual.

This could bring a sea-change to the way retailers market products. There's so much potential for understanding shopper interests and habits, while recording how often you visit, how long you stayed and what you bought that until now was difficult if not impossible to collect. By Apple being the one to introduce this it will probably increase the acceptance of location logging and data mining by retailers at what can be a micro-level. iBeacons could completely change the way retailers go about convincing shoppers to open their wallets, real or virtual. IMHO it certainly would not be as well-received had some other company introduced it.

iBeacons will be one of the topics covered by Apple's upcoming TechTalks. Developers will be wise to pay attention.

...and yes it works with Android devices offering Bluetooth LE too.
Edited by Gatorguy - 9/26/13 at 5:49am
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post
 

Can't imagine this ever getting implemented.  Too weird an edge case.

There's already at least one app for that:

 

http://www.autography.com

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubffm View Post

well, Apple did a great cover-up here. I believe this technology is just another step in Apple strategy towards enabling digital payments via iDevices.

The "fan-signature" story is very nice :-D

Why would Apple care about scribbles when they have sub-epidermal finger prints?

No.
post #13 of 26
Hey Apple how about you just update iBooks for iOS 7 so I can stop staring at the stupid old icon.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post


Why would Apple care about scribbles when they have sub-epidermal finger prints?

No.

 

Celebrities can sign their works with their fingerprint! 

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post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

Why would Apple care about scribbles when they have sub-epidermal finger prints?

No.

I don't know if I agree with bubffm's statement but your comment doesn't really relate to his. A biometric is used for initial security — albeit in the case of Touch ID mostly for convenience with your device PIN and iTS password still the primary security — while a signature is used for later verification. IOW, if there was a dispute about a purchase your bank isn't going to compare finger print hashes for any "signed" documents, but they might look at the signature. I would argue that it's easier to fake a signature than create a Touch ID hack but that's beside the point.
post #16 of 26
Originally Posted by pmz View Post
Hey Apple how about you just update iBooks for iOS 7 so I can stop staring at the stupid old icon.

 

The new icon is hideous. Do you really want that trash?

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #17 of 26

I like signatures the old fashioned way...

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post

I agree @AppleSauce007. This is pretty amazing. The fact that Apple thought of this is really cool.

Now, what Apple needs to next work on is getting that smell of a new book for a digital book!!

 

But but but we thought of it first! S-Signature, S-Smell, S-Book  :lol: 

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbuh View Post
 

There's already at least one app for that:

 

http://www.autography.com

 

I wonder if the Autography app people have any patents because it looks like Apple is copying and trying to patent the exact same technology/concept that Autography has already implemented. Based on their website and lack of company info, it seems like Autography is a small (maybe even 1-4 person) operation.  I wonder if this is a case where a largercompany with significant rescources scours the internet for cool ideas that are unprotected, then develops their own version and patents it.

post #20 of 26
Of course an autographed paper book or record album cover can become quite valuable. However, extracting that value requires transferring ownership which is currently not possible with DRM'd digital objects. Both Apple and Amazon have registered patents for schemes to transfer digital objects without infringing copyrights. So this all may converge at some point in the future.
post #21 of 26

While a nice novelty, you will never see those signatures on 'Antiques Road Show' getting appraised for the big bucks!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larz2112 View Post

I wonder if the Autography app people have any patents because it looks like Apple is copying and trying to patent the exact same technology/concept that Autography has already implemented. Based on their website and lack of company info, it seems like Autography is a small (maybe even 1-4 person) operation.  I wonder if this is a case where a largercompany with significant rescources scours the internet for cool ideas that are unprotected, then develops their own version and patents it.

They are already suing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They don't seem to be shy. Other links mention patent pending technology.
http://www.autography.com/index.php/media
post #23 of 26

I ran into a famous cartoonist in the late 90's and wanted to get his autograph. Unfortunately I didn't have any paper and a pen available at the moment.  All I had was my Palm Pilot, so I pulled up the drawing app and handed it and the stylus to him.  He signed it and drew a little cartoon as well without a second thought.

 

Unfortunately there was no good way to get those images off the Palm Pilot so I don't have it any more.

: (

post #24 of 26
Big deal. I'll take a REAL autograph over a virtual one any day.
post #25 of 26
Back in the day when I carried my Newton MP 2000 around everywhere I got a number of autographs on it from authors and musicians.

Some of the ones I got were from Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, Larry Niven, Anne McCaffrey, and Adam Ant! 1smile.gif
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

While a nice novelty, you will never see those signatures on 'Antiques Road Show' getting appraised for the big bucks!

Yes, but who knows? Sometime in the future, you could have digital 'Antiques Road Show' and online auctions where people will be able to bid for digitally autographed books.

50 years from now, someone would be bidding for a digitally autographed version of Chuck Palahniuk's Rant!
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